Georgia Southern's ground game too much for ODU

To say that all a team needs to do is stop the run when facing Georgia Southern is an understatement.

There's no doubt the Eagles are going to run the ball, the only question is, how do you slow them down?

Saturday, it was clear Old Dominion still hadn't figured out the GSU triple option attack.

Dominique Swope rushed for a game-high 186 yards and two touchdowns, quarterback Jerick McKinnon rushed for 171 yards and four touchdowns, and the fifth-seeded Eagles enjoyed a 602-yard ground assault on the way to a 49-35 victory over the fourth-seeded Eagles in the FCS quarterfinals.

Georgia Southern outscored ODU 28-0 in the fourth quarter to knock the Monarchs out of the playoffs for the second straight year. The Eagles (10-3) also advanced to the semifinals for the third straight year under third-year coach Jeff Monken. The six-time national champions will face North Dakota State next weekend in a semifinal rematch of a year ago.

NDSU won that matchup, 35-7, in Fargo.

"These kids just fought so hard, and I'm so proud of the effort of our players and everyone associated with our team," Georgia Southern coach Jeff Monken said. "We got down 14 and battled and fought and believed in each other. We carry that black flag as a symbol that we will never surrender, and we did not surrender today and haven't surrendered all season."

Last season, in a playoff matchup at Georgia Southern, the Eagles totaled 607 yards and rushed for 477, in a 55-48 shootout. The results were similar Saturday as the Eagles finished with 632 total yards.

Georgia Southern overcame a 35-21 deficit after three quarters to tie the game on McKinnon's second and third touchdowns of the game.

On ODU's ensuing drive, coach Bobby Wilder gambled with a 4th-and-6 on his team's 39-yard line, and quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw an incompletion as ODU turned the ball over on downs.

"That was a huge shift in momentum, and you have to have things like that happen and go your way to believe," Monken said. "That was a big play in the game."

Three plays later, Swope scored a 12-yard run, giving Georgia Southern a 42-35 lead with 2:36 left in the game.

On ODU's next play, Heinicke threw his first interception of the 2012 playoffs - only his 14th of the season - as senior safety J.J. Wilcox snagged his pass away from Nick Mayers with 2:28 remaining.

McKinnon then sealed the win with his fourth touchdown with 46 seconds left.

Heinicke broke Steve McNair's FCS single-season passing yardage record on ODU's first offensive drive of the second half, with a 40-yard completion to Mayers. The sophomore went on to complete 31-of-44 passes for 421 yards and three touchdowns to become the first FCS signal-caller to surpass 5,000 yards with 5,076.

Heinicke set another FCS single-season record with 398 completions, surpassing Brett Gordon's 385 for Villanova in 2002. He also set the national record for 705 plays in a season with 705, surpassing Bruce Eugene's 680 for Grambling in 2002.

He also led ODU with 48 yards and one touchdown on the ground.

Georgia Southern had two different place-kickers miss field goals in the first half. Alex Hanks missed a 46-yard attempt and junior Luke Cherry missed a 30-yarder on the first kick of his career, which allowed ODU to take a 21-14 lead into halftime.

The first turnover of the game for either team came during a crucial moment with ODU driving early in the fourth quarter. Heinicke was sacked by Dion DuBose, forcing a fumble which was recovered by the Eagles on their own 21-yard line. ODU led 35-28 with 11:04 to play.

McKinnon then led the Eagles on a 12-play, 79-yard drive and capped it off with his third rushing touchdown of the game, evening the score at 35 with 5:32 remaining.

Georgia Southern's Darreion Robinson rushed for 76 yards on four carries, Johnathan Bryant had 71 yards and Tray Butler added 46 yards.

Old Dominion totaled 534 yards of offense, and receivers Antonio Vaughan and Mayers had huge games. They accounted for 16 receptions for 296 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.